Six Americans, two Canadians and an Italian landed coveted seats at the final table of World Series of Poker’s Main Event early Sunday morning.
The chip leader in the $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em World Championship is Jonathan Duhamel, a 22-year-old French Canadian who learned how to play poker with friends and was playing in his first live tournament.
The nine are the survivors of a tournament field of 7,319 players who began play on July 5 at the Rio, including some 12 hours of play on Saturday and Sunday. The last table of 10 players lasted almost 5 hours.
The nine players will return to the Rio on Nov. 6 to play for their share of the tournament prize pool of $68.8 million. The winner takes home $8.9 million while the runner-up collects more than $5.5 million.
Brandon Steven, 36, of Wichita, Kan., finished 10th and missed out on the final table. He collects $635,011.
Duhamel has 65.975 million in tournament chips heading to the final table. A online player from a community outside of Montreal, Duhamel spent much of late Saturday night and Sunday morning in first.
“I’m really happy with how I played,” Duhamel said. “All these guys are good players, so I’m happy withy my performance.”
John Dolan, 24, of Bonita Springs, Fla., is in second with 46.250 million in chips. Joseph Cheong, 24, of La Mirada, Calif., is holding third with 23.525 million.
John Racener, 24, of Port Richey, Fla., is in fourth with 19.05 million.
Matthew Jarvis, 25, of Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, who held the chip lead at several points during Saturday’s play, is in fifth with 16.7 million in chips.
Filippo Candio, 26, of Cagliari, Italy holds sixth place with 16.4 million in chips.
Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi, a 29-year-old professional poker player from North Miami Beach, Fla., holds onto seventh place with 14.45 million in chips.
In eighth is Soi Nguyen, 37, of Santa Ana, Calif., with 9.65 million in chips.
Jason Senti, 25, of St. Louis Park, Minn., is in ninth place with 7.625 million in chips.
Entering the Main Event, Mizrachi had four individual event cashes, in the 2010 World Series of Poker including a victory and two other final table appearances.
By winning the Main Event, Mizrachi would tie Frank Kassela for World Series of Poker Player of the Year title.
Mizrachi began his 2010 run by winning the Poker Players Championship, a $50,000 buy-in event, and earning almost $1.56 million and his first-ever individual event bracelet.
Later in the tournament, Mizrachi finished 6th in the Seven Card Stud World Championship, 8th in the Limit Hold’em World Championship and 26th in a Mixed Event.
Some 42 million of Duhamel’s chips may have arrived via a mistake.
He took a massive chip lead when he eliminated Matt Affleck, 23, of Mill Creek, Wash. Before the hand, Affleck was in 5th place with 19.4 million in chips. Duhamel was in 2nd place.
Affleck had a pair of aces to Duhamel’s pair of jacks when the board came up 10-9-7 on the flop, a queen on the turn and an 8 on the river gave Duhamel his straight. The players went all in on the turn card.
“I made a bad call and I got lucky,” Duhamel said.
Prior to Saturday, Duhamel’s World Series earnings were $43,000, including $37,276 he collected for 15th in no-limit hold’em event. He cashed in other event this year.
“I don’t ever play tournament poker,” said Duhamel, normally an online player. “But I wanted to play in the World Series.”
Duhamel went to college to pursue a finance career before turning to professional poker. He also enjoys playing hockey.
Contact reporter Howard Stutz at email@example.com or 702-477-3871.